Sitting for interviews can be tough. So can knowing how to answer questions from an interviewer that feel unrelated to the job or your work history.
Did you know that there are some types of questions that interviewers shouldn’t be asking at all? Below, we’ll look at different types of illegal interview questions, as well as how to navigate answering these questions during the interview.
Types of Illegal Interview Questions:
Personal The first category of questions relates to your personal and family life. Some examples of these might include:
Age - “How old are you?”, “When did you graduate college?”
Religious Practice - “What religion do you practice?”, “What holidays do you observe?”
Marital/Family Status - “Are you married?”, “Do you plan to have kids?”
Social The second category of questions are social questions. Examples of these are:
Citizenship Status - “Are you a U.S. Citizen?”
Nationality - “Where are you from originally?”
Military Service - “Were you honorably discharged?” “How often are you deployed for Reserve Training?”
How To Answer if You’re Asked an Illegal Interview Questions:
As you think about how to answer, also consider the underlying concern in the question that is being asked. For example, with questions related to marriage or children, although not appropriate for a job interview, the intention may be to discover your availability, your willingness to travel, or simply to get to know you. In this case, you might frame a general answer that speaks to some possible underlying concerns. In the case above, you could say something like: “My experience is a great fit for the requirements of this position, and I’d love to hear more about the vision for growth in this department/organization. Can you tell me more about that?”
Another way to answer illegal or inappropriate questions is to refocus the conversation. Along with reframing the question by answering the interviewer’s underlying concern, you can also try to turn the conversation back to what you bring to the organization. You can do this by circling back to your qualifications and how they are a good fit for both the position and the organization.
There may be occasions where an interviewer continues to press you about a certain question. If none of the approaches mentioned above work in moving the conversation forward, you may want to address this directly. You could think about saying something like, “I’m not really comfortable answering that question”, or “I’m not sure how that’s relevant to the job”, or even politely letting them know that the question is illegal.
Looking for more information?
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